Nigeria stunned the United States in a pre-Olympic match on Saturday night in a game described as “one of the great upsets in international basketball history”.
The 90-87 defeat, which came nine years after the former African champions lost by 83 points to the US at the 2012 Olympics in London, handed the Americans their first slump to an African nation.
Team USA, ranked number 1 by FIBA, started the game with a lineup that included a player of Nigerian origin Bam Adebayo, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and Jayson Tatum.
The 22nd-ranked Nigerians, tutored by Golden State Warriors’ assistant head coach Mike Brown, had seven players currently playing in the NBA.
“In a way, I’m kind of glad it happened,” Team USA coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.
“That means nothing if we don’t learn from it. It could be the most important thing in this tournament for us.”
Nigeria had a line up that included Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent who ended the game with 21 points.
There were 42 three-pointers in the game. 20 of those were made by the Nigerians.
“It was an exhibition and at the end of the day it doesn’t mean much in the standings,” said Mike Brown. “But it’s a good win for us. I don’t think any African team has been able to beat USA Basketball.”
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